We are grateful to our correspondents, P&I Associates in Durban, for alerting Members to the recent increase in stowaway incidents in South African ports. The South African Authorities have made it very clear and they will not change their attitude and therefore the ship must combat unlawful individuals boarding the ship. The recent increase in incidents could be due to the fact that as Christmas approaches many individuals look for free passage home.

The current regulations in South Africa state that:

Should any unlawful person gain access onto a ship in a South African port, that person will automatically be deemed to be a stowaway unless the ship can provide photographic, video or 3rd party evidence (terminal security) that the stowaway attempted to board the ship in Durban. The ship owner will be liable for the full costs of repatriating the stowaway. It is essential therefore that the stowaway does not gain access onto the ship in any way.

Characteristics of a stowaway attack:

• They often board late at night or in the early hours of the morning

• They often try and blend in with stevedore gangs by wearing similar clothing, hard hats and reflective jackets

• They generally climb up berthing ropes and gangways and then hide in empty containers and or in the spaces in log carriers

• If there are many personnel working on ship, this helps stowaways to blend in

• They often bribe terminal security to enable them to get on board the ship

• They carry provisions for part of the journey

Our correspondents recommend the following measures:

• The owner should try and employ private security to patrol the quayside. One security guard should be positioned on the forward mooring lines and one on the stern lines. Placing security on board the ship is ineffective as the guards tend to fall asleep.

• Ideally a crew member must stand at the bottom of the gangway and check that every person boarding the ship is in possession of a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) permit and does not allow anyone on board without a valid permit.

• Every visitor should also have ISPS clearance.

• All visitors should surrender their port permit to security to the crew member and then collect the permit when they leave the ship to make sure they do not remain on board.

• If anyone does not have a port permit, the ship must call the terminal/berth security in order to identify the individual and find out why they do not have a TNPA permit. The visitor should also be in possession of photographic identification.

• The crew member must not allow any individuals to push past them on the gangway. There have been many cases where individuals have run past security at the top of the gangway. If they gain access to the ship in any way then the local authorities will deem the individual as being a stowaway.

• Where possible the gangway should be kept raised and only lowered to allow the visitor on board and only after a crew member has got to the bottom of the gangway and verified who the visitor is as outlined above.

Members are urged to be especially vigilant and should contact local correspondents straight away if they encounter any problems.